As a guide of both fly fishing and gear, I’m often asked the question “which style of fishing produces more fish?”
To me it’s a funny question because if you’re asking me that, you’ve most likely already decided that you can gain an edge by doing one or the other. Surely this isn’t the case and never will be. If someone told me they wanted to go trout fishing, I would say hands down you will catch more on the fly (if you’re experienced) than with gear. Now with salmon and steelhead…this is where the conversation gets a little grey.
Salmon don’t often get credit for eating flies- that’s because they don’t often see them. Most people believe salmon only eat bait, which they do readily all the time, but if all you were seeing was a bagel then someone showed you a Big Mac, wouldn’t you eat it? Maybe that doesn’t make sense, but that’s how I look at salmon fishing. They do eat bait more, but they see it more…
Steelhead are very willing to take flies and gear all day long. I would argue that the amount of fish that will hit the bank for any one angler is completely in their own hands. More times than I can remember, I will see someone get outfished by someone right next to them doing ALMOST the exact same thing. The reason behind this? Presentation. Fly or gear? For steelhead, I think that it almost never matters. Sure there are exceptions to this rule, but as we all know, nothing in life is set in stone .